Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 169–183 | Cite as

Differences in land cover interpretation in landscapes rich in cover gradients: reflections based on the montado of South Portugal



This paper contributes to the discussion on current issues in methodologies of mapping land cover in the agro-silvo-pastoral landscapes of the Mediterranean. These landscapes, characterized by intermixed land use and indefinite boundaries, require particular attention in applying the patch-corridor-matrix model when classifying patches and their delineation. In a case study area in southeast Portugal, mainly characterized by agro-silvo pastoral systems, the land cover for 1990 has been mapped. The paper discusses the consequences of the complexity of some Mediterranean land use systems for land cover mapping dealing with detailed landscape dynamics. Within this scope a land cover mapping project in a small case study area is compared with the mapping undertaken within a national land cover database. Both studies were carried out on the same scale and through visual interpretation of aerial photographs. Differences in land cover classification and allocation are explored using matrix with levels of agreement. Recommendations for future land cover mapping projects are: the application of fuzzy approaches to land cover mapping in agro-silvo-pastoral landscapes should be explored and land cover classifications should be standardized in order to enhance consistency between databases. On the other hand, the fuzziness of the boundaries in this kind of landscapes is inherent to the system and should be accepted as such. The accompanying uncertainties should be taken into account when undertaking landscape analysis on the basis of land cover data.


Land cover classification montado/dehesa Thematic cartography Visual aerial photo interpretation 


  1. Acacio V (2005) The dynamics of cork oak systems in Portugal: the role of ecological and land use factors. In: Abstracts of the European congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology, Faro, Portugal, 29 March–2 April 2005Google Scholar
  2. Anderson JJ, Cob NS (2004) Tree cover discrimination in pan-chromatic aerial imagery of pinyon-juniper woodlands. Photogramm Eng Rem S 70(9):1063–1068Google Scholar
  3. Bunce RGH, Groom GB, Jongman RHG, Padoa-Schioppa E (2005). BioHab, Handbook for surveillance and monitoring of European habitats. Alterra-report 1219, Alterra, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  4. Burel F, Baudry J (2003) Landscape ecology. Concepts, methods and applications. Science Publishers, New HampshireGoogle Scholar
  5. Carmel Y, Kadmon R (1998) Computerized classification of Mediterranean vegetation using panchromatic aerial photographs. J Veg Sci 9:445–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casimiro PC (2002) Uso do solo, Teledetecção e Estrutura da Paisagem. Dissertation, New University of LisbonGoogle Scholar
  7. Centro Nacional de Informação Geográfica (1990) Portugal continental, image 4460 and 4462 LisbonGoogle Scholar
  8. Council of Europe (1992) Council Directive 92/43 EEC of 21 March 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna. BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  9. EEA (European Environmental Agency) (2005) EUNIS – European Nature Information System, Cited 11 Oct 2006Google Scholar
  10. Eichhorn MP, Paris P et al (2006) Silvo-arable systems in Europe: past, present and future prospects. Agroforest Syst 67(1):29–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fernandez Ales R, Martin A, Ortega F, Enrique EA (1992) Recent changes in landscape structure and function in a Mediterranean region of South West Spain. Landscape Ecol 7:3–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forman RTT (1995) Land mosaics, the ecology of landscapes and regions. Cambridge university press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Foody GM (2002) Status of land cover classification accuracy assessment. Remote Sens Environ 80:185–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fuller RM (1981) Aerial photographs as records of changing vegetation patterns. In: Ecological mapping from ground, air and space, proceedings of 10th symposium of The Institute for Terrestrial Ecology, Abbots RiptonGoogle Scholar
  15. Gustafson EJ (1998) Minireview: quantifying landscape spatial pattern: What is the state of the art? Ecosystems 1:143–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Instituto do Ambiente and IGEOE (2005) Corine land cover 2000 em Portugal. LisbonGoogle Scholar
  17. Instituto Florestal (1994) Fotointerpretação no Âmbito do ‘Projecto Nacional de Cartografia de Ocupação do Solo’. LisbonGoogle Scholar
  18. Instituto Geográfico Português (1990) Carta de Ocupação do Solo – COS’90. LisbonGoogle Scholar
  19. Joffre R (1999) The dehesa system of southern Spain and Portugal as a natural ecosystem mimic. Agroforest Syst 45:57–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lillesand T, Kiefer R (1994) Remote sensing and image interpretation. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Longley PA, Goodchild MF, Maguire DJ, Richardson DM (2005) Geographic information systems and science. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Loveland TR, Gallant AL, Vogelmann JE (2005) Perspectives on the use of land-cover data for ecological investigations. In: Wiens J, Moss M (eds) Issues and perspectives in landscape ecology. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, p 120Google Scholar
  23. McGarigal K, Cushman SA (2005) The gradient concept of landscape structure. In: Wiens J, Moss M (eds) Issues and perspectives in landscape ecology. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, p. 112Google Scholar
  24. Ojeda F, Arroyo J, Maranon T (1995) Biodiversity components and conservation of Mediterranean heath lands in Southern Spain. Biol Conserv 72:61–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pereira PM, Pires da Fonseca M (2003) Nature vs. nurture: the making of the montado ecosystem. Conserv Ecol 7. Scholar
  26. Perez MR (1990) Development of Mediterranean agriculture: an ecological approach. Landscape Urban Plan 18:211–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pinto-Correia T (1993) Threatened landscape in Alentejo, Portugal: the ‘Montado’ and other ‘agro-silvo-pastoral’ systems. Landscape Urban Plan 24:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pinto-Correia T, Vos W (2004) Multifunctionality in Mediterranean landscapes – past and future. In: Jongman RHG (ed) The new dimensions of the European landscape. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  29. Plieninger T (2004) Built to last? The continuity of holm oak (Quercus ilex) regeneration in a traditional agroforestry system in Spain. Culterra 39:5–62Google Scholar
  30. Roxo MJ, Mourão JM, Casimiro PC (1998) Políticas agrícolas, mudanças de uso do solo e degradação dos recursos naturais – Baixo Alentejo Interior. Mediterraneo 12/13:167–189Google Scholar
  31. Santos Pérez A, Remmers GA (1997) A landscape in transition: an historical perspective on a Spanish latifundist farm. Agr Ecosyst Environ 63:91–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tomaselli R (1981) Main physiognomic types and geographic distribution of shrub systems related to Mediterranean climates. In: Di Castri F, Goodall DW, Specht RL (eds) Mediterranean-type scrublands. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang J, Kirby RP (1997) An evaluation of fuzzy approaches to mapping land cover from aerial photographs. J Photogramm Rem S 52(5):193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhang J, Kirby RP (1999). Alternative criteria for defining fuzzy boundaries based on fuzzy classification of aerial photographs and satellite images. Photogramm Eng Rem S 65(12):1379–1387Google Scholar
  35. Zhang J, Stuart N (2001) Fuzzy methods for categorical mapping with image-based land-cover data. Int J Inform Sci 15(2):175–195Google Scholar
  36. Zonneveld IS (1995) Land ecology. SPB Academic publishers, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biophysical and Landscape Planning, College Luís VerneyUniversity of ÉvoraEvoraPortugal
  2. 2.Landscape Centre, Alterra, Wageningen URWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations